Being a prophet isn’t easy – but it is necessary

Bible base : Ezekiel 2:1-7, Mark 6:1-13

Being choses as someone that God uses to speak his word into society was never an easy job.

Its one thing actually being open to recognising God’s call to speak his Word into society – its a total different thing trying to get people to listen.

God when he called Ezekiel – gets to the point straight away by telling Ezekiel : that the people of Israel that he is to speak to are rebellious, hard hearted and not inclined to listen to a word he is saying.

While They will recognise him as a prophet they are not going to be listening.to what he has to say.
Poor Ezekiel who’s name means God strengthens was to need every bit of strength that God could give him.

Whatever the discouragement Ezekiel will encounter – because of the work God has called him to, he must keep proclaiming God’s message

God said to Ezekiel –

And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or be terrified by them, though they are a rebellious people. must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious. (2:6,7)

People are all the same none of us like hearing bad news particularly when it is about ourselves- to the point that they would fail to recognise that the warning itself unfolds to be good news.

Jesus, was to get no better an acceptance of what he was saying than Ezekiel.
In all probability, Jesus family and the neighbouring villagers can’t quite get rid of the idea that Jesus had been that little boy that ran away from his parents when they travelled to the temple for passover , or the 14 year old that served his apprenticeship as a carpenter in his fathers business.
Perhaps some with longer memories still associated him with being the child that was born to the unmarried mum – with the dad that denied sleeping with his wife to be, yet did the nobel thing and married her anyway.

A village has to be the hardest place to change your identity -because the reputation of the forefathers can get cast upon the future generations.

When I was a child I used to discover when visiting the Strone in Argyll which is the village my mother was brought up in – that I was not only Margaret McIntyre’s son, Mrs Mcintyre’s grandson, Duncan and Peter’s nephew, Mary’s God son but I was also Duncan McIntyre the butchers Grandson Which is a fair enough link – but Duncan McIntyre my grandfather had died long before before I was even born. Extending the family links there were about another 20 people in the village that had some connection.

For Jesus the sheer ordinariness of being part of a local family gets in the way of his family and his friends accepting him
Jesus family were perhaps even a bit scared that that Jesus might be thought of as the neighbourhood nutter.

Wisdom and miracles would probably not be expected from the boy from the carpenters family – so they cant believe it.

This unbelief blinded them from the miracles other than a few cases of laying on hands as part of healings.
If the good news was going to spread it would need to break free of the parochial nature of the village .

So Jesus went out – travelling from village to village – and he sent out the disciples as well on this itinerant ministry. – with the challenge of travelling light and accepting the hospitality that was offered. When they went out they could and would experience ridicule, rejection and unbelief.

In society we have a problem and its an age old problem – that MANY people simply do not want to hear anything about Jesus or the way he can turn peoples lives around – even though its important.

When we think about people reluctant to listen and consider God’s Word and the effect it has on their lives- our assumption is this is targeted at non Christians.
But stop and consider – look back to the place and the time Jesus was addressing the crowds. Everyone he spoke to at that point in his ministry – already considered themselves as belonging to God – but failed to understand that Jesus although fully human and one of them – was at the same time God made flesh.

The prophets of old like Ezekiel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah and Amos and all the rest with the exception of Jonah, the disciples and Paul were all sent to fellow Israelites – people that were supposed to believe and trust in God. But these people in the main stubbornly refused to listen. In the end to find a welcoming ear – Paul had to take the Good News of Salvation through Jesus to those that were considered the outsiders – the gentile -non Jews spread across the Roman Empire.

When you are admitted a to hospital their is a form that the nurse needs to fill in – the purpose of it is so that you can receive the correct medical and spiritual care. The health board view both these aspects to be important. That’s why they employ chaplains and allow ministers to visit at times outside visiting – they may have removed the bibles form the bedside but they havn’t removed spiritual care from holistic welfare. On the form it asks what religion you are ?

I have come to the conclusion that often people tick the box Christian rather than not tick anything at all – and its not for me to judge. But the facts

From government records the national census form of 2011 – in Scotland over 1.7 million people claimed to be Church of Scotland, 841,000 Roman Catholics and 391,000 other.

The actual Church membership of these denominations across the ia a small fraction of these totals in the Church of Scotland and actual Sunday attendance is even smaller.

How they decide they are Christian without affiliation to the body of Christ which is the church, I am confused. Some of them might attend weddings, funerals, the occasional Easter or Christmas service or have gone to Sunday school, there is more effort and thought goes into booking a holiday than being part of a christian fellowship.

We suffer as a nation from the disease of look warm Christianity. The notion of sharing time sitting under God’s Word in God’s presence and interaction with other believers doesn’t seem important to many . To busy to stay – never mind pray.

Many people call themselves spiritual – and just what is that?

It seams to me to be nothing other than self absorption and religious cherry picking. The spiritual illusion which they cling to is nothing other that a self styled, self satisfying cheap grace.
Some of you might be thinking – whats does he mean by cheap grace? Its not a phrase that I thought up.

One of the greatest theologian of the last century the Lutheran Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer summed up this spiritual illusion called cheap grace-

“Cheap grace is preaching forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession. … Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”

Yes by all means consider yourselves spiritual – but have that spirituality deeply rooted in the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We have challenges in a multi faith and multi cultural society, many people are simply from religious traditions that don’t want to hear the gospel – there are some that are not interested – and their are others that have not had the story of Jesus and human salvation explained.

God has called you to be a disciple – he has called you to preach the message of the gospel and make disciples through your words and your actions – most of us tend to default to the latter by preaching the word in actions and that is essential. But,history is proving that when it comes to saving souls for Christ and introducing people to the wonder and the joy of a living faith, that’s inadequate on its own – and that should not surprise us

In your conversations . “Turn or burn”  is a bad starting point.

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. ( Colossians 4:6)

Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth. ( 2 Timothy 2:25)

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect (1st Peter 3:15)

You have always to be prepared to give the reason for the hope you have so these necessary actions of service that the lord leads you to do for others need some qualification – it might be a simple as saying you do what you do because you are a christian, you are part of a church or you feel that is what Jesus wants of you. And after that remember we are not second had car salesman or telesales operators. God will open up the conversation not you.

People in the main like to hear good news stories – conversation will come
However , Many people will be reluctant to hear, and we may not get anywhere.
We may even get a hostile response, which the disciples did – so what – If they dont want to listen its their problem and you have to respect that – but pray for them after the rejection.

All we have to do is just talk to people about Jesus and leave the rest to God.

He wants nothing more – nothing less.

Amen

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

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